The Alleviation of Poverty

Les Henson

As the people of God, we are to confront and seek to alleviate poverty in the world, for our calling involves loving God and our neighbour in need. It is not some abstract, intellectual teaching but the concrete reality of the kingdom of God. In serving God, we serve the poor and the disenfranchised, the downtrodden and the oppressed. Did not John the apostle write, “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18). Pope Francis says, “Today people are suffering from poverty, but also from lack of love.” The causes of poverty are not normal or natural but result from human selfishness, greed, ignorance and inaction. Other major factors include:

• Lack of shelter

• Limited access to clean water resources

• Food insecurity

• Physical disabilities

• Lack of literacy, education and access to health care

• Unemployment

• Absence of social services

• Gender discrimination

• Poor infrastructure

• Environmental circumstances such as natural disasters, droughts, limited resources or depletion of natural resources

Many of these causes and factors can be eliminated and eradicated by the response and actions of human beings, governments and industrial corporations if we have the will to do so. Conquering poverty is an act of justice rather than a work of charity. It is a human right that all people should live lives free from poverty, oppression and injustice. It is everyone’s problem regardless of who you are or from where you come.

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